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Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Selected Writings by Dr.S.Sathananthan

Life After Former Col. Karuna
(Press Release - Action Group of Tamils TAGOT)
19 March 2004

The Reaction in the Sinhala south to Karuna's exit from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is varied. The rabidly anti-Tamil Sinhala nationalists lunged to pit Karuna - their Great Batticaloa Hope - against the LTTE Leader Veluppillai Prabhakaran. The more cautious ones wondered whether the Karuna episode is being staged by the LTTE leadership in Vanni to throw the Sinhala government in Colombo off balance. Slightly informed Sinhala nationalists knew Karuna is more aggressive than Prabhakaran. So they feared the prospect of Karuna leading a more ruthless armed struggle.

Anti-LTTE (read: anti-Tamil) forces, including elements in the Sinhala armed forces, have been working tirelessly to divide and weaken the organisation. President Chandrika Kumaratunga could barely suppress her glee in the interview with the BBC broadcast today. She pretended regret that the "split" has "weakened" the LTTE and could make the search for "peace" more difficult.

It is obvious that Karuna left the LTTE on the assumption, based on a credible offer, that there would be an alternative stage for his act. It is reasonable to assume that anti-LTTE forces within the country and outside promised him that support. Given Karuna's poor understanding of power politics, it is also possible he did not realise that the same forces would use him to divide the LTTE and then abandon him. When President Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe requested all Sinhala political parties not to exploit the Karuna-Prabhakaran divide, it was the clearest signal to Karuna that he is no longer of much use to anti-Tamil forces.

Indeed, a south Indian newspaper that systematically campaigns against the LTTE-led Tamil National Movement last reported about Karuna on the 6th of March. Thereafter the paper has completely blacked out news about him.

The anti-LTTE forces expected to cause far more damage. They anticipated a deeper rift between the Batticaloa cadre and the rest in the organisation. That did not happen. Senior Batticaloa leaders - including Karikalan - rejected Karuna and joined Prabhakaran in the Vanni. So did a majority of the other Batticaloa cadres.

When Karuna alleged discrimination against Batticaloa, he strummed the well-worn anti-Jaffna chauvinism. But he must have been very surprised since most of Batticaloa distanced itself from him. In fact Karuna stands isolated among Tamil-speaking peoples intelligent enough to see the territorial, political and military importance of protecting and preserving the united NorthEast Province.

Consequently, anti-Tamil forces could not execute the next step to weaken the LTTE-led Tamil National Movement. They fervently anticipated - and no doubt encouraged - a bloody clash between the Karuna loyalists and the LTTE. That did not take place and it looks less and less probable with each passing day.

The more informed Sinhala nationalists view the future with increasing anxiety for two crucial reasons. First, it is becoming obvious that Karuna's unimaginative challenge to the Tamil National Movement has weakened him politically. It is also clear the expulsion of Karuna removes a competing centre of power within the LTTE and is further strengthening Prabhakaran militarily.

Second, sectarian forces that drive a divisive wedge among Tamils, to divide Jaffna from Batticaloa, have suffered a major defeat. Karuna's military discharge from the LTTE and his growing political isolation in his native Batticaloa underline the fundamental unity among Tamil speaking peoples within the NorthEast Province. That has strengthened Prabhakaran politically.

The LTTE and Karuna have traded allegations. That is to be expected when a member or faction within an organisation breaks away. Time will prove or disprove the veracity of the allegations.

It is unfortunate that sections of the Batticaloa Tamil intelligentsia are promoting Karuna's ill-advised cause. The history of the Tamil National Movement contains many such educated but unimaginative groups who were ultimately left behind by the Movement.

The LTTE is proving again to be a resilient force able to withstand any storm. The Karuna issue and the associated upheavals seem to be fizzling out. The LTTE is very likely to come out of this trial by fire a much stronger and cohesive organisation... 


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